The purring of a cat can reduce stress according to studies. As a matter of fact, the love of an animal can help reduce stress in our lives.
To me, there is nothing much better than petting a cat and the cat purring. It is soothing.
Studies have also shown that hugs can reduce our blood pressure.
Finding things in our lives that help reduce stress is essential, especially in the year 2020.
The worldwide pandemic has increased isolation and lack of touch, which makes our mental health more challenging.
Self Employed workers like us, already struggle with isolation and mental health issues.
We have discussed that before here at the MainWP blog.
Combine all of that with an uncertain year for business, and we have a double or triple whammy.
With all of this going on, we must consider our own self-care.
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According to Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.,
“Self care in essence is the mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you.”
That seems like a fancy way to say we are mindful of the care we need for ourselves.
Let’s take a look at some ways we can build a self-care toolkit to help keep us efficient.
Taking time for ourselves
Being connected with friends in the WordPress community across the world, I have seen what many have done during the COVID pandemic to help them deal with stress.
I watched as one friend dove into more woodworking around his house. As he progressed, he shared pictures of his work. Most of us were impressed.
It was a way for him to do something productive that also helped him deal with stress.
Taking time for ourselves should involve an activity we love to do, help get our minds off stressful situations, and allow us to be productive.
I admit, sometimes, mowing the lawn can do this for me. I see something I do progress as mow, I get some exercise, and my mind is free to roam and daydream.
These kinds of activities will be different for everyone. Some may have a garden or flowers, others may ride their bike, and some may go for a hike. Anything is possible.
Creative activities are also great for this. Painting, making something, music, dancing, or anything else creative would be helpful for self-care.
What’s in your self-care tool kit?
What is a self-care toolkit? I had never heard of such a thing.
Jessica Dimas describes it as, “A self-care toolkit is simply a collection of tools that help ground, recharge and inspire you.”
It makes sense, really, have a box of things on the ready when you are overly stressed.
Summer, The Suitcase Blogger, adds some context,
“There’s no right or wrong way to make a self-care kit! Anything that makes you feel safe and happy can be included. For me, a self-care kit should include things that I love and that make me feel relaxed or safe.”
I would imagine your toolbox can be full of physical products such as the ones Jessica and Summer mentions, or something a little less physical, which we will discuss shortly.
Additionally, there are several tech tools we can take advantage of to help with our ongoing self-care as well.
Brittany Berger does an excellent job of sharing some of these in her article at Work Brighter.
She mentioned everything from project management tools, to journaling, to apps for tracking your health.
Certain things work well for me, and I am sure some work for you too.
Early when I started struggling with Major Depression Disorder, I began journaling. I have no idea where all that content is now, but a positive is it got thoughts out of my brain.
I used my computer. I can type faster than I can write. Many love to use a physical journal. There is something comforting about having a physical journal that is yours to share your thoughts.
Today, there are both physical and digital journaling. Or, you can simply open something like Google Docs or Microsoft Office and start keeping your entries.
Exercise is necessary. This one I have struggled with, which is why I don’t mind mowing the lawn. I was much more active when I was younger.
We need movement. We need to move our bodies because of all of the health benefits.
Some like to do this outside as a chance to connect with nature. I live in a state where hunting and fishing are extremely popular.
Many I know who do these activities talk of the bond with nature and a friend or loved one.
Gardening is another way to get exercise and be in nature. I think the key is to find a way to enjoy nature when possible. It is well documented that we need sunlight for health benefits. You may choose to ride bikes or go for a hike.
Pets are so helpful. Studies suggest that petting an animal can help lower our blood pressure. Who doesn’t like to pet an animal? I go to the local pet store sometimes just to see the cats.
Finally, I believe in the power of music. Music includes artistic expression as well as the storytelling of lyrics. It can change your mood instantly.
There is nothing like listening to your favorite tunes when you need the motivation to work or just to relax.
Wrapping it up
There are undoubtedly many ways to practice self-care, and it will be different for each person. You may have a physical toolkit, such as we talked about earlier.
You may use a more metaphorical toolkit opting for things like exercise, pets, or doing something in nature.
The best thing to do is to find out what works for you. Others’ self-care toolkits can inspire us, but in the end, it is us we are trying to take care of.
Our friends at Big Orange Heart, a community for mental health in the WordPress community, is currently running their annual survey.
Head on over there to fill out the survey to give them feedback. The organization exists to help those in the WordPress community who need support.